Monday, 29 October 2012

Full Moon

Here's a picture of tonight's full moon.

The temperature has dropped, the clocks have gone back and we've starting lighting fires in the sitting room at night, so it must be Autumn. What? Already?

I love the change of the seasons and the colder weather makes me want to settle down and read. Well, after I've dragged on my warmest sloppy Joe clothes and slippers, that is.

How do you feel about Autumn/Winter?

PS These pictures were taken straight after one another, even though the sky looks much darker in the zoomed in photo.

Monday, 15 October 2012

I Have An Agent!

I'm - beyond - excited to tell you that Luigi Bonomi is now my agent! I almost feel like whispering this because I still can't quite believe that it's true.

I signed with him last week and have to admit that I had to reprint several copies of the agreement because my hand was shaking so much it wouldn't sign my signature properly.

I don't need to tell my writer friends what an exhiliarating moment this is because I'm sure it's something we've all dreamed about, many times. I keep murmuring, 'Luigi Bonomi is my agent' and 'I can't believe it'. I'm so overwhelmed that such a well-respected and wonderful agent now represents me.

I'm now going to take a deep breath and try to calm down.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Guest Post - Living On An Island - A Sense of Place in your Novel

I'm delighted to welcome Phillipa Ashley over to the Plotting Shed to tell us about a sense of place in your novel.
A sense of place is very important in all my novels; I love creating a real, vivid world and the more authentic I can make it, the easier I find it to imagine and develop my characters.
This has never been truer than for my new release; Miranda’s Mount which is set on an island castle in Cornwall.
I know what you’re thinking: ‘island castle in Cornwall’ - she must mean St Michael’s Mount.
Well, yes and no. It’s true that that the Mount inspired my Mount. In fact I can remember the exact moment I go the idea for the book. I was travelling home on a long car journey from another of my favourite locations, The Lake District, and dozing off – not at the wheel, I’m pleased to say – when the premise just slipped into my head.
Perhaps I was already planning my next holiday...
I love St Michael’s Mount and I wanted to write a book set in a similar place. But I also wanted my island to be my own creation.
Very unusually, the characters, their back stories and conflicts burst onto my head all at once. In half an hour, I’d got my story and I remember saying to my husband and daughter: ‘I’m going to write this book and this is what it’s about, these are the characters and this is what has happened to them to make them the people they are.’
When I got home, I started writing and never stopped.
I think my inspiration came because I chose such a unique and evocative, almost magical location that really captured my imagination.
An island castle is cut off by the tides twice a day and that imposes limitations on your characters. Firstly, in the physical sense, because they can’t escape from the place whenever they want to, they are ruled by nature, and they live and work in close proximity – which is a dream scenario for a romance.
But more important, are the emotional and psychological limitations that the location imposes and that big question ‘why’.
Why would someone chose to live on a tiny island in a close knit community?? It wouldn’t suit everyone; the claustrophobia, the difficulty of hiding things and the lack of privacy.
So I asked why my heroine, Miranda, loved living under those restrictions – and then I gave her a hero, Jago, who was the opposite, a man who couldn’t wait to escape the place that should be his birthright.
The heroine’s job as property manager of the island and the hero’s role as owner threw up so many interesting and dramatic opportunities, that the book seemed to write itself all the way through. I really felt I could see, hear, smell and taste the island. The chance to live there, if only my head, for nine months was pure escapist fun.
But I ought to leave it to a real expert on island life to give her own perspective – over to you, Debs!

Thanks Phillipa.
Miranda's Mount is published as an E-book on October 4th by Piatkus Entice and is a sexy, funny contemporary romance set in Cornwall.
When Miranda finds herself fighting for her home, her job and her heart, sleeping with the enemy may not be the best tactic…
With no family of her own, Miranda Marshall has developed a healthy respect – some would say obsession – with other people’s histories. As property manager of a spectacular island castle in Cornwall, she’s made St Merryn’s Mount one of the UK’s most popular heritage attractions. While she may have the castle running like clockwork, Miranda hasn’t bargained on its sexy owner returning to claim his birthright. Dark, handsome and with a rakish reputation, Jago St Merryn not only looks like a pirate but is intent on flogging the Mount to a soulless leisure corporation. Miranda faces the battle of her life as she tries to persuade him to face up to his past and continue the St Merryn dynasty. But Jago has his own reasons for jumping ship and when he throws down the gauntlet to Miranda, she’s forced to delve into painful memories she’d much rather keep hidden…

Here's Phillipa's Website. You can also follow her on Twitter: @PhillipaAshley

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Guest Post - Victoria Connelly, Christmas With Mr Darcy

Today, I'm thrilled to have the lovely and very talented, Victoria Connelly doing a guest post here in the Plotting Shed, together with an extract from her latest book, Christmas With Mr Darcy. Over to you, Victoria.

When I wrote my trilogy about Jane Austen addicts, it was both exciting and daunting. I'd never written a trilogy before and, although each book can be read as a stand-alone novel, there were little overlaps and, of course, lots of research to do about Jane Austen's life and works.

The first novel, A Weekend Mr Darcy, was published in September 2010 and was followed by The Perfect Hero and Mr Darcy Forever. And that was it, I thought. No more Jane Austen for me. Three books is quite enough.

But then I kept getting emails from readers who wanted more. What happened to the characters next, they asked? Would there be another Jane Austen conference in the future?

I kept thinking about my characters too and, this time last year, the idea for a novella sequel began to emerge. I have always wanted to write a book set at Christmas so what better excuse to bring all the characters from the trilogy together than a special Christmas Jane Austen conference at Purley Hall?

It was strange because I wrote most of this book during the summer although, with the bad weather we had here in the UK, it wasn't terribly hard to imagine winter!

I had such fun writing this novella and I really hope readers will enjoy it. And will there be any more Austen-inspired stories in the future? Well, never say never!

There were few sights more beautiful in Hampshire than Purley Hall in the snow. The faded red-bricked Georgian manor house stood proudly in the middle of the white landscape as if it were at the centre of a snow globe, and the fields surrounding it were smooth and sparkling in the December sunlight.
The little village of Church Stinton looked like a Christmas card. Thatched roofs had been dusted with sugar-like snow, and the church was postcard-pretty, its great yew trees looking ethereal under their white cloaks.
The south of England had been surprised by the first snow of the year but it hadn’t been hit as badly as the north of the country and, after a week of commuter chaos, the snow was beginning to disappear. Still, as Dame Pamela Harcourt looked out of the hall window, she couldn’t help feeling anxious.
‘Can you believe that more snow has been forecast? You don’t think it will put people off coming do you?’ she asked her brother. She’d been hosting Jane Austen conferences for several years now and not one had been cancelled yet.
‘Pammy, earthquakes and tornadoes couldn’t keep Austen fans away,’ Dan said from his position at the top of a ladder as he threaded a long garland of golden stars around the Christmas tree.
Dame Pamela’s twitchy fingers reached up to the pearl choker she was wearing. It was ten o’clock in the morning but, with her billowing red velvet tunic and pearls adorning her ears, throat and wrists, she looked more suitable for a red-carpet event than a morning at home.
She moved to stand under the enormous Christmas tree which had taken four men to place in the entrance hall. It was to be decorated in red, green and gold, and it was going to look perfect with its twinkling lights and heap of shiny, beribboned presents stacked underneath.
‘Pass me the baubles,’ Dan said a moment later and Dame Pamela handed him the first of the glass baubles. They gleamed like fat rubies in the light of the hall and she watched as they were placed oh-so-carefully at intervals around the tree.
‘You really are very good at this,’ she told her brother.
‘I should be after the number of times I’ve done it,’ he said, turning around and smiling at her.
‘My wonderful little brother!’ she said. ‘What would I do without you?’ She looked at his handsome profile and his shock of red-gold hair. She adored him and had been absolutely delighted when he’d married young Robyn – one of the attendees of a past Jane Austen conference. And now they had a little daughter, Cassandra. She smiled. She had a lot to thank Jane Austen for. Not only had she provided her with an adorable sister-in-law but she had done wonders for her career too because Dame Pamela had had the privilege of playing Elizabeth Bennet and Marianne Dashwood in TV adaptations of Austen’s novels in her youth, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Fanny Ferrars Dashwood in her latter years. And then there were the conferences which she so looked forward to. It had started off with an annual conference in the autumn but that had proved so popular that she had decided to host a special Christmas conference too and no expense was going to be spared.
Every guest bedroom had been decorated with evergreen garlands over the fireplaces and picture frames. A new dinner service had been bought: white edged with gold. There were crystal wine glasses too and enormous flower displays threaded with fairy lights. Great green garlands adorned the enormous front door and lights had been placed in the trees lining the driveway. Dame Pamela had also insisted that the temple on the island should be decorated with lights.
Purley Hall had to look its very best for Christmas.

You can buy Christmas with Mr Darcy here.
Victoria's Website
Twitter: @VictoriaDarcy